Scots sell focaccia to Italy – and haggis pizzas to Burns revellers

A PIZZA making company founded by former Edinburgh restaurateur Cosmo Tamburro has completed a deal to sell gluten and wheat-free focaccia bread in its founder’s Italian homeland.

Tamburro welcomed stars including Sir Sean Connery, Ronnie Corbett and Burt Lancaster to his pizzeria in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle throughout the 1970s and 1980s, before selling the bistro in 1993 to concentrate on his pizza and pasta production.

Now Newtongrange-based Cosmo Products – which is run by his son, managing director Cosmo Tamburro Jnr – has signed a deal to supply Italian firm Dr Schär with around 200,000 pieces of focaccia bread each year.

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Dr Schär already buys about 500,000 gluten- and wheat-free frozen pizzas a year from the Scots firm and sells them in Germany and Italy.

While exporting pizza and focaccia bread to Italy may at first seem like a case of “selling coals to Newcastle”, Tamburro said: “Dr Schär buy pizzas from us because of the way we produce the wheat-free bases.

“Most wheat-free products are stodgy but we manage to get a lot of air into our bases, which makes them lighter and more likely traditional wheat-based pizzas.”

News of the latest contract comes after supermarket giant Morrisons last week began stocking Cosmo Products’ haggis pizzas and two other lines, just in time for Burns Night.

Tamburro has teamed up with well known brands to make the toppings for his pizzas, including McSweens haggis, Simon Howie’s dry-cured smoked bacon and McLelland’s Orkney and Seriously Strong cheeses.

Signing the deal with Morrisons should add £200,000 a year to Cosmo Products’ £2.7 million turnover and completes its line-up of supermarket customers, which includes Asda, Sainsbury’s, Scotmid, Tesco and Waitrose.

About 70 per cent of the company’s revenues come through the retail market under its Cosmo fresh pizza brand, with the remainder made up from sales to the food services industry.

The firm supplies 22 of Scotland’s local councils with pizzas, reaching plates in about half of the country’s schools.Some 7,500 pizzas are produced by the company each day but Tamburro Jnr hopes to ramp up production to 10,000 a day.

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He already has about 50 staff and plans to take on an extra three as the firm expands. Tamburro Snr now concentrates on “research and development” in his role as the company’s chairman, while his son runs the family business.

Having helped launch the Osteria restaurant in North Berwick and La Bruschetta in Edinburgh’s Haymarket, Tamburro Snr stepped away from his food outlets last year to focus on Cosmo Products.

The next step for the company is a joint venture with Eat Balanced, a spin-out company from Glasgow University. The pair are developing “nutritionally balanced pizzas”. Cosmo Products has been working on the project with Professor Mike Lean, chair of human nutrition at Glasgow University and chairman of the nutrition committee at medical charity Diabetes UK for the past ten years.